Have you ever heard the phrase, “you are what you eat?” It’s not just a phrase dietitians use to scare you into eating healthy. It’s a true statement! Think about it this way: are there some foods that make you feel sluggish throughout the day if you eat them? For us, sugary foods tend to give one fleeting moment of satisfaction before taking us on a first-class trip to slump-town all afternoon.
You may know that foods can affect how you feel, but did you know that your nutrition may actually affect your DNA? That’s right! What types of foods you put in your body can change your genes and DNA. Science is learning more and more about this phenomena, while it’s been widely taught in the holistic health field for years.
What Is Epigenetics?
Okay, you see that scary-looking word and immediately want to run the other way.. Don’t worry! Epigenetics is a simple concept at its core - it is the branch of study explores genes and how we can alter their expression. In plain English: epigenetics studies what flips some genes on and off. Specifically, this field of study explores what genes you inherit from your parents.
What’s interesting is not only do we have the power to turn genes on and off, but our parents have the power to do that for us before we’re even alive. Crazy, right?
To demonstrate, we’re going to use this example:
Hypothetical Case Study: The Anderson’s vs Smith’s
Let’s hypothetically assume we have two sets of parents: we’ll call one the Andersons and the others, the Smiths. Let’s focus on the Anderson’s first.
Both Anderson parents smoked all the time prior to having children. You probably already know that smoking is associated with negative health concerns. Because of their choice to smoke, their children may face repercussions when they are born. Why? Because nicotine can affect what genes are actively passed on from parent to child, including a gene making it more likely for those children to become smokers themselves (1). For example, it is believed that smoking can turn off the genes that help the body block out cancerous cells. (2)
Now, let’s take a look at the Smiths. The Smith parents do not smoke. Instead, they are total health-nuts. They like to hit the gym and stock up on their favorite green veggies at the market. How do you think their children’s DNA will compare to the Andersons? Their children are more likely to have “good” genes turned on. (3)
Now, here’s where things get more interesting!
You see, the Andersons may have altered their children’s DNA by smoking; HOWEVER, that DNA can still change over time. Their child can grow up and live a healthy life, eating veggies and exercising. Guess what could happen!? They could change their genetic make-up with nutrition, healing some of the damage created by their parents.
What’s more, if the Anderson parents were to change their ways and adopt a healthier lifestyle, their future children’s DNA would be affected for the better, too! Pretty amazing, right?
How Do You Change Your DNA with Nutrition?
So, just how do you change your DNA with nutrition? There is growing research in this field, in the possibility of reprogramming your genetic health with nutrition. This is also known as nutrigenomics, which is the science that studies the relationship between human genome, nutrition and health (4). Health enthusiasts have also dubbed this process DIY biology.
The Science Behind Changing Your Genes with Nutrition
While this field of study may sound new, there’s a good chance that you already know more about it than you actually think. Especially if you have ever purchased a Purium cleanse here. Why? Well.. if you have ever completed a 10-Day Transformation, then you actually have done this before!
Research, although fairly new, continues to grow and support the argument that nutrition can improve health and even prevent certain wellness issues. Take for example this exploratory review published in Clinical Nutrition Experimental. It focuses on how nutrition affects the gut microbiota (stomach bacteria) and the gut-brain axis (5).
According to the review:
Researchers hypothesize that diet may affect psychiatric symptoms associated with the “gut-brain dysfunction.” So, if certain foods can help improve the brain-gut connection, they would be able to address issues associated with the connection, including obesity, digestive disorders and mental health.
Another study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, explored how a personalized wellness program can help “switch off” genes and decrease the likelihood of suffering from metabolic syndrome (6). Metabolic Syndrome is a group of risk factors that may lead to heart disease, diabetes and/or stroke.
So, just how do you exactly change your body with nutrition?
How You Can Help Express the Good + Suppress the Bad
Earlier, we mentioned that completing a 10-Day Transformation could be seen as a way to transform your health. While there are extreme ways doing this, changing your diet is one the simplest, easiest and most safest. In fact, diet (lifestyle) change is a tried-and-true method prescribed by doctors and nutritionists for a variety of ailments, including diabetes or hormone-imbalance.
For example, those dealing with inflammatory bowel conditions, Chrone’s disease or other digestive disorders may be asked to follow an “elimination” diet. This diet would include eliminating a myriad of “trigger” foods while increasing consumption of whole foods that may help alleviate gastrointestinal distress.
Our “10-Day Transformation” is very similar to an elimination diet, because you’re asked to stay away from sugars and other foods that may affect your health negatively. What’s more, you’re asked to flood the body with pure and premium greens and fruits.Following specialized diets, like keto or can be seen as a way to jumpstart weight loss and improve health issues caused by excessive weight. Really, there are so many options. But the main goal is the same for all: find something that works best for you.
This is Purium's new line of Epigenetics-inspired products for everyone, including kids and adults. I will be sharing more about it on the blog shortly- I am so exited to see the fusion of modern science with healthy, organic, plant based food! With today's corporate food industry we need all the goodness we can get.
For now, if you want to learn more about epigenetics:
Try these great resources:
Vuolo, M., & Staff, J. (2013). Parent and child cigarette use: a longitudinal, multigenerational study. Pediatrics, 132(3), e568-e577. Pang, D., McNally, R., & Birch, J. M. (2003). Parental smoking and childhood cancer: results from the United Kingdom Childhood Cancer Study. British journal of cancer, 88(3), 373.The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). (2011, September 20). Feed your genes: How our genes respond to the foods we eat. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 9, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110919073845.htm Mead, M. N. (2007). Nutrigenomics: the genome–food interface.Oriach, C. S., Robertson, R. C., Stanton, C., Cryan, J. F., & Dinan, T. G. (2016). Food for thought: The role of nutrition in the microbiota-gut–brain axis. Clinical Nutrition Experimental, 6, 25-38.Steinberg, G., Scott, A., Honcz, J., Spettell, C., & Pradhan, S. (2015). Reducing metabolic syndrome risk using a personalized wellness program. Journal of occupational and environmental medicine, 57(12), 1269-1274.